At the age of 59 I thought it was time to get my body thoroughly examined. So last week I trotted off to a health clinic in west London. Not surprisingly, I got a mixed report. Mostly As and Bs, a couple of Ds, and several must-try-harders.
The health check consisted of an hour with a man in green hospital scrubs, who I think was a nurse, followed by an hour with a female doctor. It was all trundling along nicely – my weight and BMI were both within the ‘healthy’ range – when something unexpected happened. After attaching electrodes to my body for the purposes of carrying out an ECG, the nurse asked me if I was pregnant.
‘Are you pregnant?’ he repeated.
I’d read an article in the Daily Mail about a 66-year-old man being turned away by a blood bank after he refused to answer that question, but I wasn’t expecting to be asked it myself. Maybe if I’d gone to my NHS GP, but not at a fancy private clinic. Perhaps I’d been lulled into a false sense of security by the absence of rainbow flags in the reception area.
When I continued to look baffled, the nurse said that he was about to send a series of electronic pulses through my body and, if I was pregnant, they could harm my unborn child. I raised my eyebrow, as if to say, ‘That doesn’t really explain it’, at which point he added: ‘And these days men can get pregnant.’ I could have made an issue out of it, but it was so patently absurd I just laughed.